December 16, 2021
Amazon‘s $2 billion Housing Equity Fund was announced in January, and has many components. The fund has already deployed millions this year to help affordable housing specialists acquire and preserve old apartment complexes, with special emphasis on the Eastside. Now the fund has committed $21 million for a professional training, mentorship and capital funding program to help promote real estate developers of color. It’s partnering in the effort with the Local Initiative Support Corporation, a 42-year-old community development organization that’s been active in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. LISC Puget Sound is its local branch, which was relaunched this summer. LISC says that, in past decades, it’s helped to create or preserve 33,000 affordable units in our state. The new Housing Equity Accelerator will be centered in the three regions Amazon calls its home: here, Nashville and Arlington, Virginia. The fund’s Catherine Buell said in a statement, “It is so important that we support emerging real estate developers of color who can offer different perspectives to community building and help come up with lasting, impactful solutions. Brian Surratt now leads LISC Puget Sound. “Historical barriers have made it very difficult for Black and other developers of color to get a foothold in the development business,” he said. “With Amazon’s support, our hope is to bridge that knowledge gap and build a bench of developers of color who are trusted in their communities, and who are likely to hire contractors and other workers of color, some of whom may live in those same neighborhoods.” For more details and info: lisc.org/puget-sound.